Indigenous Intellectuals

Knowledge, Power, and Colonial Culture in Mexico and the Andes

Indigenous Intellectuals

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 29 photographs, 5 maps, 2 figures Published: April 2014

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Mexico, Native and Indigenous Studies

Via military conquest, Catholic evangelization, and intercultural engagement and struggle, a vast array of knowledge circulated through the Spanish viceroyalties in Mexico and the Andes. This collection highlights the critical role that indigenous intellectuals played in this cultural ferment. Scholars of history, anthropology, literature, and art history reveal new facets of the colonial experience by emphasizing the wide range of indigenous individuals who used knowledge to subvert, undermine, critique, and sometimes enhance colonial power. Seeking to understand the political, social, and cultural impact of indigenous intellectuals, the contributors examine both ideological and practical forms of knowledge. Their understanding of "intellectual" encompasses the creators of written texts and visual representations, functionaries and bureaucrats who interacted with colonial agents and institutions, and organic intellectuals.

Contributors. Elizabeth Hill Boone, Kathryn Burns, John Charles, Alan Durston, María Elena Martínez, Tristan Platt, Gabriela Ramos, Susan Schroeder, John F. Schwaller, Camilla Townsend, Eleanor Wake, Yanna Yannakakis


"The notion of indigenous intellectual embraces a wide variety of individuals with different educational backgrounds and skills sued to convey and use their knowledge in Mexico and the Andes."  — Rocío Cortés, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"The beauty of this volume is that the collected essays touch on so many topics key to colonial studies today... that it is no longer possible to exclude indigenous intellectuals from the scholarly discussion or the university classroom. With regard to the latter, the volume is a boon to those who have long wished to include indigenous voices in their advanced undergraduate and graduate-level seminars but did not know where to begin." — Kelly S. McDonough, Ethnohistory

"The editors' framing of the project is thoughtful. They are sensitive to historical change on both the Indigenous and European sides of the cultural divide, and to the many ways in which knowledge could be inscribed.... The contributors to Indigenous Intellectuals deserve great credit for putting their topic on the map and making major advances within it." — Raphael Folsom, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

"[T]his volume... represents a major step forward in further deconstructing Spanish presentations of colonial realities." — Claudia Brosseder, American Historical Review

"It is refreshing to come across an edited volume whose every contribution displays an equal standard of excellence. In Indigenous Intellectuals we have such a volume. Here, we encounter a series of actors from Mexico and Peru–indigenous historians, interpreters, cartographers, notaries–whose presence on the colonial stage belies the notion that the 'lettered city' was composed exclusively of university-educated Spanish officials and clerics. The stories of these indigenous men of letters are the products of intensive archival research and are narrated in lucid prose; we come to know these colonial actors as thinkers and as individuals. The various contributions come together into a coherent book with a persuasive argument: it is clear that this volume was the product of a dialogue. Once you are introduced to Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, you want to meet Cristóbal Choquecasa and you will understand why they are included in the same book. The Mexico-Peru comparison is cogent, fresh, and insightful." — Joanne Rappaport, author of The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada

"This superb volume brings together a veritable who's-who of the scholars who have pushed the study of indigenous intellectuals into a coherent subfield of ethnohistory. Their essays are populated by a wide array of educated, native men from colonial Mexico, Oaxaca, and Peru, from interpreters and translators to lettered noblemen. The colonial cultural patterns that emerge are as fascinating and illuminating as the indigenous individuals who are brought to life in the essays. A must-read for all scholars of colonial Latin America."\ — Matthew Restall, coauthor of Latin America in Colonial Times


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Gabriela Ramos is University Lecturer in Latin American History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow and College Lecturer at Newnham College, Cambridge. She is the author of Death and Conversion in the Andes: Lima and Cuzco, 1532–1670.

Yanna Yannakakis is Associate Professor of History at Emory University. She is the author of The Art of Being In-Between: Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Elizabeth Hill Boone ix

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction / Gabriela Ramos and Yanna Yannakakis 1

Part I. Indigenous Functionaries: Ethnicity, Networks, and Institutions

1. Indigenous Intellectuals in Andean Colonial Cities / Gabriela Ramos 21

2. The Brothers Fernando de Alva Ixtilxochitl and Bartolomé de Alva: Two "Native" Intellectuals of Seventeenth-Century Mexico / John Frederick Schwaller 39

3. Trained by Jesuits: Indigenous Letrados in Seventeenth-Century Peru / John Charles 60

4. Making Law Intelligible: Networks of Translation in Mid-Colonial Oaxaca / Yanna Yannakakis 79

Part II. Native Historians: Sources, Frameworks, and Authorship

5. Chimalpahin and Why Women Matter in History / Susan Schroeder 107

6. The Concept of the Nahua Historian: Don Juan Zapata's Scholarly Tradition / Camilla Townsend 132

7. Cristóbal Choquescasa and the Making of the Huarochirí Manuscript / Alan Durston 151

Part III. Forms of Knowledge: Genealogies, Maps, and Archives

8. Indigenous Genealogies: Lineage, History, and the Colonial Pact in Central Mexico and Peru / María Elena Martínez

9. The Dawning Places: Celestially Defined Land Maps, Títulos Primordiales, and Indigenous Statements of Territorial Possession in Early Colonial Mexico / Eleanor Wake 202

10. The Quilcaycamayoq: Making Indigenous Archives in Colonial Cuzco / Kathryn Burns 237

Conclusion / Tristan Platt 261

Bibliography 279

Contributors 307

Index 311
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5660-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5647-9
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